At the age of 12, I had been to Votaw, but not Utah. While growing up, it never occurred to me that in my lifetime I would be able to leave Texas, much less visit all 50 states of the USA. Votaw is a small town in East Texas where my family attended a reunion each July. It was about as far as I had ever been from my home in Humble. Then, when I was 13, my mother left the reunion in Votaw and drove us to Many, La. before heading home. She wanted to be able to say she had been out of the state of Texas before she died.
My family travels were limited to visiting relatives who all lived less than 50 miles from us, therefore the thought of seeing the USA did not enter my thoughts. Additionally, I had never heard of a “50 Stater” until I read an article in the Houston Chronicle a few years ago. The story was of a young man who had a goal of visiting all 50 states. At the time I read the newspaper article, there were only six states left for me to see. Being a “50 Stater” became a goal for me as well.
Visiting all 50 states of the United States of America had not been an idea or goal for me; it just happened through life’s adventures. During my senior year of college I received an offer to work in New Mexico for four months. That was the first time I left the state of Texas since the short drive through Many, La. The following year, my sister and I made our first cross-county road trip during our summer vacation. One of our college friends had moved to Nebraska and our first stop was a visit with her. From Nebraska we traveled highways across farm lands and large cities to Washington, D.C. where we visited another friend. The next year we took an aunt to see her son in South Carolina. The journey home included driving along the coast through Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. At the end of that trip, the list of states that I had visited was considerably longer.
After my marriage to a man from Michigan, he and I made many road trips to see his family and friends. Along the way we would visit points of interest in other states. The list of states that I had visited continued to grow.
In 1993, my son married and settled in the Seattle area. During road trips to Washington State, we traveled in most of the states west of Texas. Our cruise tour to Alaska was in 1998, and in 1999, I joined friends for a road trip to New York City. The following summer, my sister, two friends and I drove to Prince Edward Island, Canada. We were able to explore all the New England states while we made our way to PEI. The list of states I had not visited was now down to four – North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Hawaii.
At the end of the year 2000, I still had four states to complete my goal of becoming a “50 Stater.” It would take some time and planning to accomplish my goal. That’s the subject of next month’s column.